The saying goes that ‘April showers bring May flowers,’ but that’s not the only thing that spring rains bring to our beautiful province. Spring is a time when ephemeral wetlands replenish, and host various species including frogs! Check out this neat video of a Pacific Tree Frog taken by a friend of ours in Powell River, BC. who has a unique fascination for wetlands and wetland species. Our friend is Terry Brown, the Amphibiographer! He is an artist who takes a unique approach at examining the boundary between water and air. He defines Amphibiography as writing, photography, and video that reveals life on all sides of the air/land/water divide. Terry is a unique individual who expresses a childlike wonder for all things water-related – an attitude that leaves onlookers wanting to share the experience.
Terry’s intent is to inspire appreciation for the wet world amongst youth and people with youth. As a child, he and his friends would cycle to an ephemeral wetland at the edge of town where they made simple rafts and observed, caught, and released various amphibians. Terry and his friends had the opportunity to explore nature at their own pace, leading their own learning in nature through hands-on experience. Terry emphasises the importance of unstructured and children-lead exploration, which allows kids to nurture their interests and connect with nature in a way that is significant to them, and often overlooked by adults.
It is often remarked that humans know less about our own oceans than we do about extraterrestrial bodies. Similarly, the Amphibiographer emphasises the other-worldly nature of aquatic environments:
“Whenever I slide my facemask through the mirror of the water’s surface I am always awestruck by the expansive universe unfolding before me, as alien as outer space, as wild as any place on land, and filled with creatures as bizarre and glorious as any science-fiction imaginings. This inner space universe is incredibly accessible, your local pond, creek or river harbours many fascinating marvels, not just the ocean. A mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit are all that is needed to immerse oneself in an exploration of wonder.”
Terry’s environmental activism can be traced to when, at the age of ten, a school was built over the wetland that he and his friends frequently explored. He has grown into a passionate and wise environmentalist, and presently maintains a very special website that documents and shares his passion for wet places through photography and video. Terry’s favourite retreat is his “sit spot” in the Eagle River estuary near Powell River where he enters the flow of nature by observing and sensing it in a complete and almost meditative way.
Nature has the ability to evoke a long lasting spiritual and emotional relationship within people. My most fond childhood memories are those in nature: the rich, earthy smells while exploring forested ravines; numbingly cold water on my hands and feet as I searched for crayfish; the comforting sound of water churning downstream; an infinite variety of rocks to turn over, trees to climb, and wet places to explore.
Terry’s message is to get outside, and explore your “local liquid.” Be it a lake, river, pond, or puddle, everyone has access to a local liquid on some scale. Simply spending time outside, attuning your senses to the natural world around you, promotes interest, awareness, and passion for the environment.
“Even though I love to actually be swimming in the water some of my favourite water to explore is in shallow wetlands, ditches, and my tiny front yard pond! I shot some cool video of tree frog males wrestling each other in my front yard pond just a few steps outside my door. You can’t get much more local than that! I didn’t get wet either. Another place where I don’t want to get wet is the ditch beside the nearby highway. The water is only a few cm deep, festooned with garbage, so I’m definitely not even wading in it, for health reasons and for not disturbing the habitat by stomping on everything. There is drama in this ditch, I’ve filmed tree frog pollywogs being chased and eaten by a garter snake; water beetles, water striders and pollywogs fighting over food; and salamander nymphs jetting around. So you may not have an ocean, river or marsh nearby but you probably have a ditch. Check it out, there are ‘Riches in them Ditches!’ “
I would like to encourage all readers to check out the Amphibiographer’s websites, browsing his photo galleries, and watching his videos. You can also connect with Terry by sharing videos and photos of your own local liquids!
Click here to visit Terry Brown’s website and photo galleries.
Click here to visit the Amphibiographer’s video archives, and view regularly updated material.